Photos by Raegan Reynolds (Left) and Melanie Williams (Right)

By Robert Wilson

       There are high school coaching changes around Metro Jackson every year, but rarely do the coaches swap schools like girls basketball coaches Tameika Brown and Jalessa Taylor did earlier this summer.

       Brown left Madison Central and took the Northwest Rankin position and Taylor left Northwest Rankin and took the Madison Central position.

       Brown, who played at Yazoo City High (for legendary coach Archie Carlyle) and Jackson State (she’s a member of the JSU Hall of Fame), had a 114-90 record in seven seasons at Madison Central. Her best record was in 2020-2021 when she went 21-3 and reached the MHSAA Class 6A state quarterfinals. She has also coached for four years at Yazoo City and 11 years at Velma Jackson. Brown has 362 career wins.

       Taylor, who played at Jackson Academy (set a school record for most points in a career) and Mississippi College (was an all-conference player), had a 67-49 record in four seasons at Northwest Rankin. She also was a graduate assistant for one year and an assistant coach for six years at Mississippi College before coming to Northwest Rankin. 

       “I was hoping to have an opportunity to move to the collegiate level to coach basketball, but God had other plans for me,” Brown said. “My goal was to trust Him to lead me where He wanted me to be, and I was thrilled that He led me to Northwest Rankin.”

“Tameika is an experienced coach,” Northwest Rankin athletic director Devin Cooper said. “She played the game at a high level as a player. Tameika brings a wealth of knowledge to our girls and our school. She is a great person of integrity. Tameika is a winner. Northwest Rankin is very blessed to have her as a part of our family.”

Brown inherits four returning starters from last year’s team, which finished 22-11 and reached the MHSAA Class 7A semifinals.

       “I am very excited to be joining the NWR family and to have the opportunity to lead the girls basketball program here,” Brown said. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the players and watching them grow and progress this summer.

       “My team at NWR is very talented. They play with a lot of energy and passion. I have good senior leadership and a plethora of young players who will fill big roles for us this fall.”

       Taylor has two returning starters from last year’s team, which finished 19-15 and reached the MHSAA Class 7A quarterfinals.

       “I’m thrilled to start this new journey,” Taylor said. “I’m excited about my new staff, my team, and the new opportunity to bring continued success. We have a young team that’s eager to learn, works hard and is very coachable. That’s a recipe for success. I’m looking forward the process and the outcome.”

       “We are so excited to add Coach Jalessa Taylor to the Jag coaching staff,” Madison Central athletic director Toby Collum said. “Coach Taylor has an exceptional pedigree and basketball record. Jalessa has a tremendous work ethic and I know she’s going to do a great job. Coach Tameika Brown built a great foundation and we look forward to watching Coach Taylor add to that.”

       Both programs have two of the best young players in Mississippi and the South on their teams.

Madison Central has 5-foot-6 freshman point guard Karley Robinson, who has started for the Lady Jaguars since she was in the seventh grade. Robinson averaged 12.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.0 last season as an eighth grader. She had a career-high 24 points in a win over 5A state runner-up Canton and had a triple double (12 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds) in a win over 7A state runner-up Germantown last season. 

Robinson was on the second team of the PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Team last season. She was the youngest player in the 20-player team All-Metro team. Robinson was also the youngest player in the Preseason Elite 11 Team. She already has four Division I offers, Southern Miss, Jackson State, Alabama A&M, and Arkansas Pine Bluff.

       “I love playing for Coach Taylor,” Robinson said. “She makes me love the game even more. Coach Taylor makes my job easier on the court. She holds everyone accountable, and she is fair. The future of Madison Central girls basketball is headed in the right direction under Coach Taylor’s leadership.”

       Northwest Rankin has 5-foot-4 sophomore guard Malia McCelleis, who averaged 14.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 steals, and 1.7 assists last season as a freshman. She was on the third team All-Metro Jackson team, one of four freshmen on the 20-player team. McCelleis had a career-high 25 points in a win over Pearl and 24 points in a win over Harrison Central. She had nine games with 20 or more points. 

       “My first impression of Coach Brown was that she and Coach Taylor have similar work ethics, which made it very easy for me to get used to,” McCelleis said. “I love how Coach Brown is always encouraging us as her players to always strive for greatness and work to unlock our full potential. While playing for Coach Taylor, I saw a state championship title vision even though we have a new coach, this vision has not changed, and I feel that winning the state title is in our near future. All in all, I look forward to a very fun and competitive season with my current coach, my school teammates, my AAU teammates, and myself.”